malnutrition and farming

A commentary in nature 12th March 2009 discusses ways of combating the starvation or sub clinical malnutrition, which wrecks nearly 1000 million people in the world.
Instead of food aid that farming be encouraged or that food be bought locally and given. This is recommendation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The relative costs are enormous
To buy ship and distribute a tone of US maize in Africa costs $US 812
To buy a tonne of maize locally and to distribute $US 320
To give farmers fertilizer, seed and support to grow an extra tonne of maize $US 135.
This is such a good idea beset with problems.
On the plus side
This gives work and inexpensive food to local communities.
On the negative side.
Is land available?.
US farmers will be coming to rely on this food distribution for their own sales at a bad time for Farming
Drought is a real problem in Africa so irrigation is a possible requirement
Disease amongst these malnourished communities is endemic.
But these are problems and challenges to be overcome and the real joy of this idea is it gives a multi facetted hoe to communities.
Sanchez 2009 A smarter way to combat hunger Nature vol 458 p 148

Martin Eastwood
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